Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Mahler’s Third Symphony launches Prague Symphony Orchestra's UK tour

The Anvil in Basingstoke was the first location for a strenuous seven-concert UK tour by the Prague Symphony Orchestra - a venue-hopping trip, criss-crossing the country from Hampshire to Wales, with four northern cities and a pit-stop in London spliced between Edinburgh and Nottingham.

Rigoletto past, present and future: a muddled production by Christiane Lutz for Glyndebourne Touring Opera

Charlie Chaplin was a master of slapstick whose rag-to-riches story - from workhouse-resident clog dancer to Hollywood legend with a salary to match his status - was as compelling as the physical comedy that he learned as a member of Fred Karno’s renowned troupe.

Rinaldo Through the Looking-Glass: Glyndebourne Touring Opera in Canterbury

Robert Carsen’s production of Rinaldo, first seen at Glyndebourne in 2011, gives a whole new meaning to the phrases ‘school-boy crush’ and ‘behind the bike-sheds’.

Predatory power and privilege in WNO's Rigoletto at the Birmingham Hippodrome

At a party hosted by a corrupt and dissolute political leader, wealthy patriarchal predators bask in excess, prowling the room on the hunt for female prey who seem all too eager to trade their sexual favours for the promise of power and patronage. ‘Questa o quella?’ the narcissistic host sings, (this one or that one?), indifferent to which woman he will bed that evening, assured of impunity.

Virginie Verrez captivates in WNO's Carmen at the Birmingham Hippodrome

Jo Davies’ new production of Carmen for Welsh National Opera presents not the exotic Orientalism of nineteenth-century France, nor a tale of the racial ‘Other’, feared and fantasised in equal measure by those whose native land she has infiltrated.

Die Zauberflöte brings mixed delights at the Royal Opera House

When did anyone leave a performance of Mozart’s Singspiel without some serious head scratching?

Haydn's La fedeltà premiata impresses at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama

‘Exit, pursued by an octopus.’ The London Underground insignia in the centre of the curtain-drop at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s Silk Street Theatre, advised patrons arriving for the performance of Joseph Haydn’s La fedeltà premiata (Fidelity Rewarded, 1780) that their Tube journey had terminated in ‘Arcadia’ - though this was not the pastoral idyll of Polixenes’ Bohemia but a parody of paradise more notable for its amatory anarchy than any utopian harmony.

Van Zweden conducts an unforgettable Walküre at the Concertgebouw

When native son Jaap van Zweden conducts in Amsterdam the house sells out in advance and expectations are high. Last Saturday, he returned to conduct another Wagner opera in the NTR ZaterdagMatinee series. The Concertgebouw audience was already cheering the maestro loudly before anyone had played a single note. By the end of this concert version of Die Walküre, the promise implicit in the enthusiastic greeting had been fulfilled. This second installment of Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung was truly memorable, and not just because of Van Zweden’s imprint.

Purcell for our time: Gabrieli Consort & Players at St John's Smith Square

Passing the competing Union and EU flags on College Green beside the Palace of Westminster on my way to St John’s Smith Square, where Paul McCreesh’s Gabrieli Consort & Players were to perform Henry Purcell’s 1691 'dramatic opera' King Arthur, the parallels between England now and England then were all too evident.

The Dallas Opera Cockerel: It’s All Golden

I greatly enjoyed the premiere of The Dallas Opera’s co-production with Santa Fe Opera of Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel when it debuted at the latter in the summer festival of 2018.

Luisa Miller at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its second production of the current season Lyric Opera of Chicago is featuring Giuseppe Verdi’s Luisa Miller.

Philip Glass: Music with Changing Parts - European premiere of revised version

Philip Glass has described Music with Changing Parts as a transitional work, its composition falling between earlier pieces like Music in Fifths and Music in Contrary Motion (both written in 1969), Music in Twelve Parts (1971-4) and the opera Einstein on the Beach (1975). Transition might really mean aberrant or from no-man’s land, because performances of it have become rare since the very early 1980s (though it was heard in London in 2005).

Wexford Festival Opera 2019

The 68th Wexford Festival Opera, which runs until Sunday 3rd November, is bringing past, present and future together in ways which suggest that the Festival is in good health, and will both blossom creatively and stay true to its roots in the years ahead.

Cenerentola, jazzed to the max

Seattle Opera’s current staging of Cenerentola is mostly fun to watch. It is also a great example of how trying too hard to inflate a smallish work to fill a huge auditorium can make fun seem more like work.

Bottesini’s Alì Babà Keeps Them Laughing

On Friday evening October 25, 2019, Opera Southwest opened its 47th season with composer Giovanni Bottesini and librettist Emilio Taddei’s Alì Babà in a version reconstructed from the original manuscript score by Conductor Anthony Barrese.

Ovid and Klopstock clash in Jurowski’s Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’

There were two works on this London Philharmonic Orchestra programme given by Vladimir Jurowski – Colin Matthews’s Metamorphosis and Gustav Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’. The way Jurowski played it, however, one might have been forgiven for thinking we were listening to a new work by Mahler, something which may not have been lost on those of us who recalled that Matthews had collaborated with Deryck Cooke on the completion of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony.

Birtwistle's The Mask of Orpheus: English National Opera

‘All opera is Orpheus,’ Adorno once declared - although, typically, what he meant by that was rather more complicated than mere quotation would suggest. Perhaps, in some sense, all music in the Western tradition is too - again, so long as we take care, as Harrison Birtwistle always has, never to confuse starkness with over-simplification.

The Marriage of Figaro in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera rolled out the first installment of its new Mozart/DaPonte trilogy, a handsome Nozze, by Canadian director Michael Cavanagh to lively if mixed result.

Little magic in Zauberland at the ROH's Linbury Theatre

To try to conceive of Schumann’s Dichterliebe as a unified formal entity is to deny the song cycle its essential meaning. For, its formal ambiguities, its disintegrations, its sudden breaks in both textual image and musical sound are the very embodiment of the early Romantic aesthetic of fragmentation.

Donizetti's Don Pasquale packs a psychological punch at the ROH

Is Donizetti’s Don Pasquale a charming comedy with a satirical punch, or a sharp psychological study of the irresolvable conflicts of human existence?

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Kate Aldrich is Arden Scott and Michael Mayes is Wendell Swann. [Photo by Karen Almond]
14 May 2016

Great Scott Wows San Diego

On May 7, 2016, San Diego Opera presented the West Coast premiere of Great Scott, an opera by Terrence McNally and Jake Heggie. McNally’s original libretto pokes fun at everything from football to bel canto period opera. It includes snippets of nineteenth century tunes as well as Heggie's own bel canto writing.

Great Scott Wows San Diego

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Kate Aldrich is Arden Scott and Michael Mayes is Wendell Swann

Photos by Karen Almond

 

On May 7, 2016, San Diego Opera presented the West Coast premiere of Great Scott, an opera by Terrence McNally and Jake Heggie. The Dallas Opera had given the piece a star-studded world premiere on October 30 of the previous year. Heggie is best known for Deadman Walking, which premiered in 2000, and Moby-Dick, first seen in 2010. Unlike its predecessors, Great Scott is a comedy, not just an amusing work, either, but a rollicking belly laugh-inspiring comedy.

McNally’s original libretto pokes fun at everything from football to bel canto period opera. It includes snippets of nineteenth century tunes as well as Heggie's own bel canto writing. He writes great faux Rossini. One of the most often quoted passages is the beginning of “Ah, non giunge uman pensiero” (“O, inconceivable thought”), the cabaletta or last section of “Ah, non credea mirarti” (“I didn’t believe I would see you”), the most important soprano aria in Bellini’s La sonambula (The Sleepwalker).

The opera opens on a rehearsal of the bel canto opera-within-an-opera, Rosa Dolorosa, figlia di Pompei, which had been composed in 1835, but never performed. Great diva Arden Scott, sung by Kate Aldrich, will portray the title role in a performance at the diva’s hometown opera company and she tells the company how she discovered the long-lost manuscript. Aldrich sang her long and difficult role with golden bel canto tones when they were called for and with dramatic emphasis when that was appropriate.

KA1_0839A.png(Left to right) Michael Mayes is Wendell Swann, Garrett Sorenson is Anthony Candolino, Joyce El-Khoury is Tatyana Bakst, Anthony Roth Costanzo is Roane Heckle, and Philip Skinner is Eric Gold

Traveling with Arden is a young and brash but tremendously talented Eastern European soprano, Tatyana Bakst. Played to the hilt by Joyce El-Khoury, her “variations” on the National Anthem at the beginning of Act II brought the house down. Later, when Sid Taylor, portrayed by Nathan Gunn, comes in to pick up his son who is in the opera, he and Arden, who has once been lovers, sing of their different life styles.

Arden’s one-time piano teacher, Winnie Flato, sung by Frederica von Stade, is sponsoring the show that local performing company, American Opera, is relying upon to put its finances in the black. She is also concerned about her husband’s football team, The Grizzlies, which hopes to win the Superbowl on the same night the opera opens. The team’s financial position is as perilous as that of American Opera. Thus, football lovers and opera lovers have something in common. A singer many of us remember as Cinderella, Cherubino, and Octavian, von Stade is as charming as ever and still has that special sound in her voice that appeals directly to the listener’s emotions.

Conductor Eric Gold, sung authoritatively by Philip Skinner, is surprised by Stage Director Roane Heckel’s personal interest and here the plot adds a few extra strands that have to be tied up later. Dulcet-voiced counter tenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, one of the few cast members who appeared in Dallas and San Diego, sang Roane with bell-like tones while acting the part of a very recognizable stage director. He is a gem and I hope we will soon hear him again in San Diego. Garrett Sorenson as Anthony Candolino and Michael Mayes as Wendell Swann rounded out the cast as a tenor and a baritone who manage to impress Winnie for the future.

_KA32931A.pngA scene from Rosa Dolorosa, Figlia di Pompei the opera within the opera Great Scott

Jack O’Brien’s stage direction was totally realistic and thoroughly amusing. Bob Crowley’s diva costumes were spectacular for both Arden and Tatyana. His outfits for Winnie were amusing and eye-catching and his costuming for the other characters was always appropriate for the time and place. Crowley's scenery and Elaine J. McCarthy’s projections put Tatyana in front of an American flag for the football game and allowed Arden to sing Rosa’s final scene before a monumental version of Vesuvius. Both stage pictures worked amazingly well, but I did wonder why it took so long to lower Rosa’s sacrificial alter ego into the caldera.

Choreographer John de los Santos gave us interesting dances and Chorus Master Charles Prestinari’s singers sang in exquisite harmony while letting us understand the words. Maestro Joseph Mechavich brought out the San Diego Symphony Orchestra’s ability to play the music of both bel canto and twenty-first century opera with consummate skill. This was a wonderful night at San Diego Opera and a most auspicious rendition of a fabulous new opera.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Eric Gold/Ghost of Bazetti, Philip Skinner; Tatyana Bakst, Joyce El-Khoury; Winnie Flato, Frederica von Stade; Anthony Candolino, Garrett Sorenson; Wendell Swann, Michael Mayes; Roane Heckel, Anthony Roth Costanzo; Arden Scott, Kate Aldrich; Sid Taylor, Nathan Gunn; Tommy Taylor, Ezra Dewey; Anonymous Voice, Steve Hoagland; Amor Lawrence Gonzalez; Announcer, Christopher James Stephens; Conductor, Joseph Mechavich; Stage Director, Jack O’Brien; Set and Costume Designer, Bob Crowley; Lighting Designer, Brian MacDevitt; Projections Designer, Elaine J. McCarthy; Choreographer John de los Santos; Chorus Master, Charles Prestinari; Supertitles, Charles Arthur.

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):